Willow Court driving force

KELVIN Derksen-Luelf doesn’t mince words. He sees a private sector-driven revitalisation of Willow Court as essential, and he’s going to continue to press hard to get it done.

Overall, his company’s proposal is a total investment of some $6.8 million, and involves three buildings in the southernmost section of the Willow Court site.

Alonnah Ward, an adjacent building that was called Occupational Therapy, and
the Carlton Ward have been leased for the past five years by the Distillery business from Derwent Valley Council.

On a walk-through of the site, Kelvin eyes Alonnah Ward, built in the 1960s to incarcerate women for such offences as ‘moral deficiencies’.

Shut down with the rest of Willow Court in 1999, there’s an ugliness here that’s not just architectural.

“I don’t think Willow Court needs a Master Plan,” he
says, reflecting on work being completed by Council staff. “The key elements of the future Willow Court are already here.”

The businessman then points to the large areas of the site given over to a variety of private interests.

Those include the Willow Court Antiques Centre on the George Street end, the privately owned Ladies Cottage in the centre of the complex and the buildings of Corumbene nursing home being refurbished along The Avenue.

He points at the existing arrangements for Agrarian Kitchen, Salamanca Arts and his own New Norfolk Distillery as the cornerstones of how private sector interests can be melded with those of Derwent valley Council, considered the custodian of the site.

All of these businesses are investors in Willow Court, argues Kelvin.

“We want to make our contribution, add more amazing pieces in the fantastic puzzle that is Willow Court,” he says.

“That will go before Council. “We’re being pragmatic and we hope Council will see that’s the way forward at its meeting in late April.”

Council says it’s currently waiting on finalisation of key infrastructure elements from TasWater and TasNetworks as well as a site valuation.